Archived news (11)

News items published in the first half of 2019

Plan for static-caravan site withdrawn!

30 July 2019

Tomorrow night, the Planning Management Committee of East Northants Council were due to consider the proposal to erect 32 static caravan on the field in front of Top Lodge. Today we heard that the owners of the field had withdrawn the application.

 

This, the latest of four proposals to develop the field, was the most visually intrusive yet and had been strongly opposed by local residents and other Friends of Fineshade from across a wide area. The Forestry Commission too had objected to the plans stating that it would have an adverse affect on the visitor centre and to the setting of the Grade-II listed building.

 

The committee had visited Top Lodge last week to view the proposed development and what they saw will have convinced them that this was totally unacceptable.  Their Planning Officer had already  provided advice to reject the proposal, giving five sound reasons that would be likely to stand up in the event that the owners of the field tried to lodge an appeal. You can read that report, together with more about the proposed development here.

So, faced with almost certain defeat, the owners of the field have withdrawn their application. One more threat to the tranquillity of Fineshade Wood has come and gone.

 

Entries to Earth Photo, an international photographic competition, are now on display in Fineshade Wood until September. Earth Photo is developed jointly by Forestry England and the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers). The aim is "to stimulate conversations about our world, its inhabitants and our treatment of both."  There are powerful images of in four categories: People, Place, Nature and Changing Forests.

Shortlisted entries to the competition have been displayed around the Smelters' Walk trail - through parts of the wood that themselves could be described as Changing Forests. There are images of, for example, underwater sea creatures off the coast of South Africa, snow covered hills in Israel, and refugees queuing for food. Choosing to display the images in a woodland in the middle of England is certainly unusual and unexpected. 

 

There is more about the competition and you can see all the images here: www.earthphoto.world.

Powerful images in unusual places

6 July 2019

 

On the evening of 28th June, 6pm - 8:30pm at Top Lodge, the next artists in residence at Fineshade will be unveiling their new work. Created by a group of artists called the Owl Project, they say they are "spending time in Fineshade Wood exploring the forest floor, lifting up logs and looking under stones to film ants going about their business. Using cameras and software to visualise the routes taken by these creatures to allow for what seems like chaos to be rendered as pattern."  You can read more about it here.

Also during the evening Edwina fitzPatrick, the artist responsible for the Archive of the Trees (pictured left), will be launching the book of her project. Free copies of the book will be available for those who contributed memories about the weather, an integral part of Edwina's project.

Ant Art and a book launch

19 June 2019

 

There are a few mature Elms surviving in and around Fineshade Wood and it seems particularly important to record where they are. What is it about these trees that has allowed them to reach maturity?

Friends of Fineshade are working to record where all the remaining Elms and, with expert help, to find out which particular Elm species they are. 

 

In addition, seed has been collected from the best specimens and we hope that these can be grown to produce new stock to plant here in Fineshade and the wider Rockingham Forest.  More details about the start of this project are here.

Recording and propagating Fineshade's Elms 

8 May 2019  and updated 14 June 

 

A changed carpark

28 May 2019

Earlier this year extensive tree felling took place around Top Lodge. Large areas of the wood were thinned but it was the clear-felling of the conifers around the carpark and houses at Top lodge that changed the landscape most fundamentally. We have been reporting the progress of this work on this page.  

Following the felling of all the conifer, extensive reconstruction of the parking bays and some replanting was carried out. The carpark was closed for periods while all this work took place. Now, at the end of May, that construction work seems to be complete though we believe that there will be further tree planting (of non-native trees!) carried out next winter. 

A changed carpark

28 May 2019

Earlier this year extensive tree felling took place around Top Lodge. Large areas of the wood were thinned but it was the clear-felling of the conifers around the carpark and houses at Top lodge that changed the landscape most fundamentally. We have been reporting the progress of this work on this page.  

Following the felling of all the conifer, extensive reconstruction of the parking bays and some replanting was carried out. The carpark was closed for periods while all this work took place. Now, at the end of May, that construction work seems to be complete though we believe that there will be further tree planting (of non-native trees!) carried out next winter. 

 

We learned today that our MP, Tom Pursglove, has written to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for the Environment, expressing his concern about the proposed static caravan site at Fineshade. He said: "It is unthinkable that, having so recently fought off Forest Holidays’ intention to develop the site, another destructive application could blight Fineshade in the same way." You may recall their exchange in the House of Commons last year.

Tom also wrote to David Oliver, Chief Executive of East Northamptonshire Council in similar vein, urging that the application be refused.  Also today, the number of Public Comments received by the Planning Department of ENC reached 100. The deadline for the receipt of Objections has been extended until 30 March, but the date for determination of the application has not yet been fixed.

Support for Fineshade in Westminster

15 March 2019

 

Road traffic data released

5 March 2019

Yesterday the Forestry Commission released the road traffic data that they have been collecting  over the past year. A vehicle counter was installed last March monitoring the number of vehicles entering the FC carparks and also the caravan site. It's fascinating stuff! We've always said that the road was at carrying capacity at peak times and now we have the data to confirm this. There were 10 days when the number of vehicle movements counted was over 1000 with a maximum of 1535 on the Spring Bank Holiday, Monday 28th May 2018.

The timing of this data release is most helpful as we will be able to use it to oppose the current planning application which describes the road as "a lightly trafficked rural road".

There is a gallery of pictures showing the busy road to Top Lodge here.

 

A new threat to Fineshade's tranquillity

23 February 2019

Another planning application has been lodged with East Northants Council.  The owners of the field in front of the Visitor Centre want to put 32 static caravans there, in what they describe as a "holiday park". In fact this looks like an attempt to turn the whole field into a much larger residential caravan park of the sort that one might see at Skegness.

There are more details of what the field looks like now, the static-caravan application and how to oppose it on this page of our website.

 

 

 

There are over 20 ponds in and around Fineshade Wood. Some of them date back to the time when some of the wood was farmland but others were created by the Forestry Commission as a means of increasing the biodiversity of the wood. Visiting wildlife recorders have been finding an amazing range of species including newts, dragonflies, bugs, beetles and water plants.

Unfortunately ponds, if  left to themselves, tend to get choked with vegetation and fill up with leaves and silt, so every now and then they need some TLC. In the last fortnight three of the bigger ponds have been given just that. Two ponds that were created 25 years ago had some of the reed and silt removed while the much older one pictured left also had an impenetrable mass of fallen branches dragged out. It looks twice the size it was now.

You can read more about the work that was done on the three ponds along with before-and-after images here.

Improving Fineshade's ponds

3 February 2019

 

This huge ancient Beech on the eastern edge of the woods is known in Fineshade as the Cathedral Tree and it has been the subject of great concern since it was damaged by fire in 2017. (You can read more about the tree here, why it's called Cathedral Tree here and about the fire damage here.)  The tree is of special significance to people in Kings Cliffe and last year its condition was drawn to the attention of the Senior Tree and Landscape Officer of East Northants Council. Working with new FC Forester, Scott Martin, a management plan for the tree was drawn up which will entail a staged reduction over several years to revitalise the tree and make it safe.

In the last couple of weeks the tree has been given some very careful surgery in order to reduce some of the weight carried by its many arched branches.  One of the main branches (top right) was removed completely because it had died, probably as a result of the fire in the trunk. Rather than making a smooth cut as is usual, that branch was removed with a so-called "coronet cut", deliberately leaving a jagged edge to benefit roosting bats and other wildlife. This method of pruning mimics the way that tears and fractured ends naturally occur on trunks and branches.

Scott says that they will be monitoring how the tree responds to this work and, if all's well, further work will be done to try to slow or prevent the tree falling apart in the coming years. Certainly the tree was still looking very fine and cathedral-like when we visited today.

Light trim for the Cathedral Tree

23 January 2019

 

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